How to Build a Cross Draft Paint Booth

Written by timothy burns
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How to Build a Cross Draft Paint Booth
High quality custom car painting requires specialised paint booths. (custom car 1 image by Bhupesh Shah from

Specialised paint processes obtain the highest rates of success when performed in fully enclosed paint booths. The booth is environmentally controlled and features a high-volume fully regulated air supply. One type is a cross-draft paint booth. A cross-draft booth is the perfect solution for the automotive enthusiast or custom car painter. Cross-draft paint booths are constructed in many sizes, and the size is usually dependent on the size of the equipment. Paint booths can be the size of a small bedroom, or large enough to paint an aircraft fuselage.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Regulated, environmentally controlled high-volume air supply
  • Aluminium duct work, vents
  • Replaceable paint particle filters
  • Integrated environmental controls (HVAC system) for the intake air supply
  • High-volume ventilation exhaust fans
  • 2-by-4's
  • 1/2-inch drywall
  • 4.54 Kilogram of 16d nails
  • Drywall tape and mud
  • Drywall tape and mud finishing tools
  • Siliconized acrylic caulk and caulk gun
  • 4-by-8 sheets of FRP fibreglass wall panels
  • High-gloss acrylic latex paint

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  1. 1

    Determine the size of equipment to be painted, and the amount of air needed to properly ventilate the paint booth. The equipment size determines the total overall dimensions for the paint booth. A typical paint booth can be just large enough for the painter and equipment, or up to the size of a large single-stall truck garage.

  2. 2

    Select an HVAC system capable of controlling the temperature for a high-volume air supply. According to Global Finishing Systems, a commercial paint and HVAC equipment supplier, a typical paint booth will exchange over 8,000 cubic feet of air per minute. The HVAC equipment must be able to control the temperature of the incoming air and maintain specified conditions in the paint booth.

  3. 3

    Identify a source for the paint booth air supply. Paint booths can pull air from the exterior of a building, or from within the building's controlled environment. When evaluating the paint booth's air supply, considerations must be made for the building's exterior ambient temperature, seasonal temperature fluctuations, how often the booth will be used, and whether the building's existing HVAC system can manage the increased intake volume for the paint booth without overloading.

  4. 4

    Identify the paint booth's ventilation exhaust system. The air vented from the paint booth must be scrubbed of volatile fumes and paint particles before being released into the surrounding environment. The air in a cross-draft booth is drawn in from one end, travels through the painting area, picks up the fumes and particulates, and exits the booth as it is drawn out via a high-capacity ventilation fan.

  5. 5

    Once the booth's specifications have been determined, research and secure any building permits needed to lawfully complete the project. The size of the paint booth will likely be a determining factor in whether a building permit will be needed. The larger the facility, the more likely a permit will be required.

  6. 6

    Research OSHA and EPA requirements regarding chemical emissions discharge, and requirements related to hydrocarbons or other pollutants. The paint booth exhaust emissions must comply with all local and federal government clean-air regulations.

  1. 1

    Assemble a larger, commercially designed booth, per manufacturer's/suppliers instructions. The booth should be environmentally sealed so as to capture all fumes created during the painting process. The booth should also be designed to operate at internal air pressures equal to the surrounding conditions.

  2. 2

    Construct a smaller, custom-built booth from traditional building materials such as 2-by-4 lumber and drywall. When attaching the walls to the floor, the bottom wall plates should be fastened tightly to the floor and sealed in order to eliminate any air seepage. Interior walls could be finished with any high-gloss paint, or covered with FRP fibreglass wall panels for ease of cleaning.

  3. 3

    Construct the ventilation system for the booth. One end of a cross-draft paint booth contains the replaceable filters and ventilation systems. The air supply is pulled into the booth by the exhaust fans rather than forced in by a forced-fan input system.

  4. 4

    Install the intake HVAC air supply environmental controls. Safety features of the booth should include temperature and air flow monitoring equipment, and emergency shutoff switches and/or automated shutdown mechanisms if conditions inside the booth exceed safe operating boundaries. An emergency shutdown circuit should be available to the painter inside the booth.

  5. 5

    Test all aspects of the booth before putting it into use. This environmentally managed paint booth should be fully understood before any painting takes place since the health and safety of the painter is completely dependent on the booth's successful operation.

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